Letters to the Editor

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The Editor welcomes correspondence on any topic which has been in Wendover News or may be of interest to its readers.  Please write to us at Florence Nightingale Hospice Shop, First Floor, 19 High Street, Wendover HP22 6DX or email us at the usual address: editor@wendovernews.co.uk or telephone 01296 624270 or speak to us in the town.  Letters may be edited and may or may not be published at the Editor's discretion.

We'd love to hear from you.

The Manor Waste Refurbishment

Ella Jones, Clerk to Wendover Parish Council, Wendover  |  Submitted: Dec 12th 2016
Wendover Parish Council feels that it is important to clarify some misunderstandings that have resulted from the recent improvements to the Manor Waste.

The Manor Waste project was carried out because this busy area was worn down by heavy use that resulted in 370 broken slabs and uneven cobbles. Because of the unevenness the area had become difficult for users with mobility issues and unpleasant for even younger people with prams. Adverse comments were received; many villagers had fallen and/or injured themselves on the old surface.

The Parish Council started to develop a plan with a simple objective. That was to make the area stronger, safer and more useful for all.

An outline design was commissioned from a local architect.

Wendover Parish Council does not accept that its proposals were not sufficiently open to public scrutiny – meetings of the Amenities Committee and Parish Council are publicised and held in public.

This outline was publicised at council meetings, including the Annual Parish Meeting, where Councillors and the designer were available to discuss the project. Wherever possible the wishes of the community were sought and listened to and the design was adjusted over a period of 4 or 5 years. It came a long way in that time, from a black and white colour scheme with large concrete balls to what we see today.

Councillors engaged with thousands of people to arrive at the hundreds of detailed survey responses that informed the final design.

The consensus led to a design that broadly speaking, updated the 1977 take on the space with a smoother surface with more seating.

The final design was then presented to the planning authority, AVDC, and when they gave the go ahead the work began.

In response to some specific questions on the design published in Wendover News....

Access: The dropped kerbs in the Manor Waste area are to facilitate access for buggies/prams, mobility scooters and wheelchairs and not for vehicles, so there is no need for retractable bollards at these points.

The kerb line has been maintained and retractable bollards have been installed where vehicles are to gain access.

Tactile Paving: Tactile surfaces act as a warning of change for pedestrians with sight challenges. The paving works in with a number of other techniques used by the visually impaired pedestrian.

Drainage: The new surface has been laid to the pre-existing fall with a new gulley installed to assist drainage. It seems to work quite well.

Wendover Parish Council believes that the design brief was fit for purpose and that the outcome is going to serve the village for many, many years. The works were carried out in accordance with current planning regulations.

The Parish Council would also like to respond to those that have written in support of the development. The Council sends its gratitude to those that have offered support for the development, those that completed the consultation questionnaire and those that contributed ideas and opinions at public meetings or by discussing with Councillors.

The Manor Waste Refurbishment

Chris Richards, Aylesbury  |  Submitted: Dec 9th 2016
I have been following the Manor Waste debate with interest. Following Belinda Brackley’s well-researched letter about policy and the impact of this refurbishment on the surrounding Conservation Area, there are important lessons by the District Council and future applicants for funds received through AVDC. As an ex-Independent District Councillor for Wendover and Halton and a member of AVDC’s Planning Committee ,conservation area issues frequently arose. My thoughts are : policy – Local Authorities - of which our Parish Council is one - have permitted development powers therefore they did not need planning permission to refurbish the Manor Waste. Impact - I would have thought that prior to any decisions about the overall look of the Manor Waste, contact could have been established with the Conservation Officer to seek their informal views on a design that would blend in better with the surrounding Conservation Area and advice asked about a solution to the Health and Safety issue raised by the cobbled section of the old Manor Waste. In Aylesbury’s Market Square, AVDC’s solution was to shave the tops of the cobbles, removing the problem whilst retaining this pleasing aspect of the Square. However considering the amount of money spent on this refurbishment it would be impractical to replace this inappropriate design – surface colours more suited to Oxfordshire and style more suited to a modern environment - so I hope that the PC looks into low cost options for addressing those issues.

Our District Councillors could have a big role to play by ensuring that any other Parish Councils receiving money from the District Council for similar projects in conservation areas are advised by the Council to seek informal advice from Conservation Officers. I believe this sorry saga has raised issues of national importance which our District Councillors should raise in full Council. It is irrational to have policies which ensure Joe Public living in a Conservation Area must engage with planners on a variety of issues; trees, windows, railings etc. yet once they step out of their house on to the pavement, a Local Authority through permitted development has no such restrictions. I suggest after that full Council discussion, AVDC writes to the Planning Minister proposing that rules be amended so that prior to any permitted development works in Conservation Areas, the advice of Conservation Officers must be sought.

The Manor Waste Conservation Area

Belinda Brackley, Dunsmore  |  Submitted: Oct 1st 2016
I have taken a little time to look into the advice, legal requirements and guidelines which inform decision-making regarding enhancements to Conservation Areas.

Historic England produced an excellent updated Advice Note in February of this year. This talks about appraisal and management of Conservation Areas by Local Authorities. The appraisal must consider threats to and opportunities for Conservation Areas and findings should be developed into a Management Plan. In 2011, Aylesbury Vale District Council produced an Appraisal of all their designated Conservation Areas and this included the Manor Waste. It is available on their website.

Under Section 71 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Authority (Aylesbury Vale) has a duty to draw up and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of Conservation Areas. It is also a requirement that the Local Authority submits proposals to a Public Meeting. The Historic England Advice Note suggests there are major advantages, particularly in gaining public support, by encouraging owners, residents’ groups, amenity groups, business and community organisations to discuss the issues facing the Area and how these might be addressed. Management Plans, like Appraisals, which are drawn up without effective consultation are likely to be be misunderstood and ineffective.

The Advice Note also states that:

“Enhancement schemes can be achieved by sympathetic landscaping and planting, and the retention of features of local interest to maintain local character” and also that: “Proposals for conservation and enhancement will be most effective when all Departments within the Local Authority understand the significance of designation and work corporately to ensure that development decisions respect historic content”.

I note that the Parish Council now feel that its proposals were not sufficiently open to public scrutiny but I would also argue that Aylesbury Vale have been lacking in their involvement in this process too. It is certainly not acceptable that changes have been made to the paving, seating and planting without a Management Plan being consulted upon or produced. It is also unacceptable that only construction plans seem to have been available and no alternative samples of heritage paving, design details, detailed artistic drawings of the finished area, or possible seating options and planting schemes were made available to the public. Were any options presented for comment and debate at a public consultation meeting?

Of further concern is the statement contained in the Aylesbury Vale Appraisal of the Manor Waste:

“The Manor Waste itself is paved in a variety of slabs, setts and cobbles and is attractive and well maintained”.

There is not a single adverse comment on the surface of the Manor Waste. There are comments on too much signage, too many advertising A boards and too much clutter. The Appraisal recommends a street furniture and signage audit and a de-cluttering plan.

In a Conservation Area, it is important to retain the character of the area. This is a fundamental aim of designating an area as a Conservation Area. It is not necessary to replace sound, attractive, paving if new paving is detrimental to the area and any problems regarding people traversing the area safely could easily have been resolved by the installation of wider paths constructed in a high quality heritage paver in keeping with the listed buildings and local construction materials. This would have been considerably cheaper and would have enhanced the Conservation Area. It is not necessary for Conservation Areas to be totally flat and urbanised and neither is it desirable. The pavers and the new seats are designed for an urban environment and are only suitable for use in a modern concrete and glass environment or with modern wood/metal cladding. Frankly, the pavers are not acceptable anywhere! They are definitely not acceptable in a Conservation Area surrounded by many historic and listed buildings, some dating from the 16th century.

As the Appraisal of the Manor Waste found nothing wrong with the slabs, setts and cobbles, why was such a draconian, expensive and ruinous scheme carried out? What landscape design consultants were used and what understanding and knowledge did they have of the Appraisal, advice from Historic England or the historic centre of Wendover? Where is the Management and De-Cluttering Plan for the Manor Waste? What happened to any form of effective consultation and involvement of local people and businesses? Not only did the people who designed and implemented this scheme have no concept of how to enhance a Conservation Area, they ignored all sound advice and have used totally inappropriate materials and landscaping furniture, none of which is recommended in the Historic England Advice Note.

The Parish and District Councillors need to address, urgently, how this scheme can be rectified. They also need to establish a De-cluttering Plan and a Management Plan. They need, above all, to understand the concept of a Conservation Area, how to manage it, and provide a meaningful public consultation where they provide precise details, with alternatives, so people can express a view based on information which can be readily interpreted. It is also a good idea to include examples of enhancements to other Conservation Areas in other towns and villages to see what “best practice” looks like.

We have been badly let down by people entrusted to be informed and diligent in their management of this Conservation Area. It is simply not good enough.

Pokemon Stop Look and Listen!

Name and Address Supplied, Wendover  |  Submitted: Sep 23rd 2016
On Tuesday afternoon (20 September) between about 4 and 5 we were driving through the village and a group of about 7 young boys, maybe 9 – 12 years of age were looking for Pokemon and crossing the road without looking by No. 2 Pound Street.

Seconds later my husband turned into the Shoulder of Mutton and just missed two of them. He wound down the window and said ‘take care lads’ and was given a not too pleasant response and ignored.

We saw them cross the road without looking on three occasions and two of them jumped down the bank from the Shoulder of Mutton onto the Station approach and straight into the road there. It’s just an accident waiting to happen, so if any parents know that their children go Pokemon spotting after school can they please instil in them to look and listen, the old way of crossing the road!!


Concerned of Wendover!!

AVDC Housing Problems

Simon Icke, Aston Clinton  |  Submitted: Aug 12th 2016
It seems AVDC don't care less about Aston Clinton's existing community or the impact mass uncontrolled housing development is having on the village. There is no democratic process; in reality it is a complete sham. Fool anyone who wants to follow their faux games or the planning process thinking they can make a difference. As for planning for the needs of the existing community, where are the affordable homes for Aston Clinton youngsters? Non existent! The uncontrolled developments continue, despite thousands of letters of objection; hundreds of people attending planning meetings protesting, organised protest groups; all totally ignored, now local plans created will probably have little impact. No one's really interested in the opinion of the vast majority of the local population. In reality all these honest and noble democratic efforts have achieved very little, as no one at AVDC is listening; including your elected members it seems.

When it comes down to crucial voting at committee stage, the people you thought you could depend on are usually sitting on the fence or have "gone AWOL". It seems they are all full of hot air at the end of the day as they make their public platitudes.

AVDC will continue to ride roughshod over the will of the people.

Unbelievable comment I heard recently from a well to do local resident who lives in Aston Clinton: "Well of course Aston Clinton is no longer suitable for young people trying to buy their first home, it's for middle class wealthy people moving in from London!" It seems our planners and greedy developers think exactly the same.

PS - I have three adult children living in our family home. My second son in local employment with Arla working as a dispatch supervisor/technician, age 33 engaged to a local girl age 31, unable to find anything affordable to rent or buy within 6 miles of where he lives or works in Aston Clinton. My youngest son age 28 (First Class Hons Degree), in International Accountancy , plus AAT, his Fiancee LLB (Hons) passed first year on her long road to becoming a Solicitor: Two highly motivated bright young professionals unable to get a roof over their heads in the Aylesbury Vale area, let alone Aston Clinton. Result: five adults living in one open plan 4 bed home. This is modern day overcrowding in the Aylesbury Vale. Planning, what planning? It's a disgrace!

EU why I am voting LEAVE

Simon Icke, Aston Clinton  |  Submitted: Jun 6th 2016
To be honest I'm getting old now; 60 years old in fact, and as far as you young guys I'm yesterday's guy and its true I no longer have the sharp mind to produce statistics to back up my heartfelt feelings on voting Leave for the EU.

I was once very successful for one of the UK's biggest insurance companies; my ideas were estimated to bring in an income of around £500 million & a £ billion over 15 years income. I trusted my instincts then and I was led by my heart, just like I am now that I truly believe a vote for out will be better for our nation in the long term. Even if there is a bit of a knee jerk reaction in the first twelve months, if we vote to leave it will come good in the long run.

Someone once said to me the most important decisions in our life are made with our hearts not our heads. I believe deep down this is the right decision, not just for selfish short term reasons and perhaps short term gains & personal security, but no - the much bigger future and the benefits of future generations and the future of this once great nation; long after I'm gone! Believe in your country and have the courage to vote LEAVE. Back Britain not the EU!

Going the Extra Hundred Miles

Mike Kent, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 31st 2016
Dear Editor,

I really wanted to let you know about a local Wendover trader who went the extra "hundred miles" for our family. I hope you will consider publishing it.

Due to very sad circumstances, my sister and her partner had to get an emergency licence so they could be married in Milton Keynes hospital. By the time everything was sorted out, it was 8pm in the evening with the ceremony set for 3pm the next afternoon. All the family helped arrange things and after we pulled a reception venue out of thin air (another heart warming story) it was 10am the morning before the wedding and no flowers. We rang round trying to find the bride's favourite lilies, but unfortunately they were special order only.

For reasons I am not sure of myself, I called into Eileen's Flowers on the Tring Road, Wendover in sheer desperation. After I explained the situation, Eileen dropped everything she was doing and was on the phone to the bride. Watching her multi task running round to every corner of the shop, picking flowers from here and there while talking to the bride and making her dream wedding bouquet was a sight to be seen. Button holes for the guys, no problem. Button holes for the ladies, Eileen is on the phone again asking about the colour of their dresses and like magic, colour coordinated button holes for the ladies appear too.

In the space of about an hour, this wonderful lady had sorted everything out and we can think about a quick shower before the ceremony. Thank you so much, our family will always remember your kindness and determination to make sure our sister got the wedding bouquet and flowers she always dreamed of.

Everything went fantastically and while there are a long list of people to thank for making this wedding day special, Eileen is one of the people at the top of our list. Thank you.

Wendover Police Station History

D E Manderfield, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 18th 2016
I was posted to Wendover Police Station January 1956, prior to this having been serving with the Coldstream Guards in London. The Police Station then was a large shed situated behind the two Police houses at 101 and 103 Aylesbury Road. One might say having seen the fine Police Stations in London it was a bit of a shock.

Wendover at this time was serviced by an Inspector, two Sergeants and about ten Constables. There were an additional Constables at Aston Clinton, Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville Great Missenden, Prestwood and The Lee. In May 1959, we moved into the new Station at the corner of Lionel Avenue. The old Police Station, the shed, was taken down and re-erected at Amersham to double the size of their existing premises near the old Brazil's Pork Pie factory. They soon had a new place in King George Road.

At its peak, the Wendover Police Station had 18 Constables, two Sergeants, two Detective Constables and an Inspector. Wendover additionally took responsibility of policing Holmer Green with its resident Constable.

In 1968, Thames Valley Police was formed from the forces of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Reading Borough and Oxford City. From then on so called progress!

Doug Manderfield, sometime Sergeant 504

Tour de France in Town?

Sean Meier, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 18th 2016
Dear Wendover News,

Couldn't help noticing the new bike racks at the station. Must have missed the announcement that Wendover was hosting a stage of the Tour de France and they needed to store the bikes for the night.

Regards, Sean Meier

Cleaning for the Queen - The Wendover Evening WI

Marilyn Storer, President, Wendover Evening WI, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 18th 2016
23rd April 2016 saw Wendover Evening WI members, armed with bags and grabbers, "cleaning" the streets of Wendover in support of the Country Life "Clean for the Queen" campaign. When this was proposed at our meeting there was some opposition because members had seen the good work done by our normal street cleaner.

As expected we found very little litter. The exception was cigarette ends. Despite bins being provided to hold them, the butts were scattered all around the ground. We could not understand this thoughtless and anti-social behaviour until someone suggested that people think that cigarette ends will soon biodegrade. Could I use Wendover News to advise such people that this process will take about 12 years. Hopefully knowing this will have a positive impact on our otherwise very clean streets.

Regards
Marilyn Storer
President, Wendover Evening WI
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